16 years ago, the Lord allowed me to walk through my deepest sorrow.
Delivering a lifeless baby.
Our fourth son, Matthew.
Because a baby is not considered a "life" until he has lived 20 weeks in the womb of his mother, our son's name cannot be found in the record books of California births.
He did not receive a birth certificate; there is no death certificate.
In the eyes of the medical community and our government, Matthew Isaac Eastman never existed.
Our son, fearfully, wonderfully, and purposefully designed by the God who created him, is REAL.
His heart had already stopped beating before this image was captured, yet it gives evidence that he existed.
And because our God is a good God who knows our needs before we present them, He orchestrated a dozen details that would bring us tremendous comfort while grieving the death of a son we never knew.
I delivered Matthew at St. Joseph's Hospital.
A hospital that places a large purple teardrop on the door of the delivery room to alert all who enter that this is not a room of rejoicing, but a room of sorrow.
A hospital filled with nurses possessing huge hearts who see the purple teardrop, walk into the room with compassion radiating from the faces, fall on their knees next to the hurting mother, take her hand, pray with her, and whisper sweetly yet with authority, "This is not your fault. Do not let your mind go there."
A hospital that creates their own birth certificate and fingerprints/footprints to honor the life that is no more.
A hospital that moves the grieving mother out of the mother/baby unit so she does not have to endure the sound of babies crying and visitors arriving to celebrate new life while she weeps with empty arms.
A hospital that gives parents the dignity of choosing where to bury their child.
A hospital that values and honors life.
The fingerprint and footprint have long since faded, now colored in with pen to remember their size.
The flowers that filled the hospital room and our home have returned to dust.
The cards and letters written by family and friends are safely tucked away in Mathew's box.
His journal sits on our shelf next to those of his five brothers and his sister.
The memories of his brief life and his delivery are secured deeply within my mind's eye - and my heart.
Because my son did LIVE.
Only six people on this earth met him.
Only six people saw his tiny body.
Only six people know what it feels like to hold his tiny frame.
Only the tears of six people splashed across his face before he was dedicated to the Lord to be used for His glory.
And Matthew's life HAS been used by God.
Since the moment I was told his heart had stopped beating, the Lord has used the life and death of our son to allow us access to the hearts of countless other women walking through the same sorrow. And together we have witnessed the beauty of the Lord's promise ..."The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18
I would never have chosen a stillbirth.
I would never have chosen to hold a lifeless child - my own son - in my arms.
I would never have chosen the overwhelming grief that accompanies such a loss.
But I would also never choose to have it any other way.
I am not the same woman I was before losing my son.
My husband is not the same man.
Our family is not the same.
And because the Lord redeems what is broken and restores what has been lost, using our personal sorrows to teach us how to enter into and walk with others in their own, I will praise Him until I take my final breath that there was a purpose for my pain.
And it was never about me.